The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) has reviewed the city staff report on the “Multi-Family Incentives Project” that the Historic Preservation Commission is considering at its May 23, 2016, meeting. While the WHPA supports the four (4) recommendations identified in the staff report, we believe that much more could be done to bolster the city’s contention that it puts a high priority on historic preservation.
The WHPA strongly supports the establishment of a “Historic Apartment Preservation Program” as outlined on Page 30 of the Page & Turnbull/Place Economics report. We urge the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to make a motion to include this program as a recommendation, and we would like to see the HPC take a public vote on this matter.
The potential costs of such a program could be better clarified in the report. Even so, the WHPA points out that the City made a recent $7.0 million purchase of the one-acre of vacant land at Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Boulevard and a $2.5 million purchase of the former Coast Playhouse across from City Hall.
The City of West Hollywood has the resources — it’s time it started to truly respect its historic buildings and the owners who provide 593 rent-stabilized units of housing for citizens of West Hollywood, and allocate more money into maintaining our city’s historic infrastructure.
After a nearly three-year process, a contract expenditure of $122,000, and myriad meetings of community members and city commissioners, city staff recommends several relatively minor recommendations which the WHPA does support. Along with the waiving of city fees, the adjusting of repainting time schedules, and utilizing an already extant Transfer of Development Rights Program, the staff report recommends hiring an on-call historic preservation consultant costing $25,000 annually who will assist owners of historic properties.
In the past, the HPC has questioned and the WHPA still continues to question why the City does not hire a full-time staff member assigned to historic preservation. So much more could be done with such a designated full-time position. In addition, the WHPA has recently learned that funds received under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program can be used for historic preservation projects. We ask that the contractor Page & Turnbull and the city staff explore this opportunity further, and provide an update to relevant commissions and the public before the City Council’s August 15 planned hearing on incentives.
Thank you for your consideration.
West Hollywood Preservation Alliance Board of Directors